We, Filipinos in Japan were told by our Foreign Service Post in-charge of the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) that the postal stamp necessary to mail back our ballots will be shouldered by us. This cannot be true!

In the previous elections, postal stamps are already paid for by the Comelec along with the security envelope bearing the address of our Foreign Service Post in Tokyo and Osaka acting as OAV centers. We are not aware if this is true to all countries covered by the OAV.

For the record, we want to register our opposition to this ruling. Not only is this an added burden for our OFWs; in our view, this will prevent many registered voters from participating in the elections. We cannot help but think that this is yet another way of disenfranchising our OFWs.

We also wish to inform you of the slow, piecemeal efforts of our Foreign Service Posts to provide relevant and adequate information about the conduct of the OAV in Japan. The announcement on the mode of elections was only posted at the Philippine Embassy website on March 27 and the testing of the VCM was only announced on April 1, thereby disabling ordinary voters, even Filipino Community groups (FilComs) to actively witness and participate in the event. Even the accreditation of NGOs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to become OAV partners of Comelec is being mashed-up through the imposition of requirements that are not part of Comelec Resolution 10499.

As we are nearing the start of the OAV, we are appealing to you to reconsider your decision on the above matter. OFWs are the biggest contributors to Philippine economy. Asking us to buy our own stamp to ensure that our votes will be counted is an insult to our patriotism and the billions of dollars that we contribute annually. This cannot be happening when billions of pesos are being spent by the government to infrastructure projects that are not benefitting ordinary Filipinos, not to mention the hundreds of millions more spent on lavish overseas travels by government officials that are not helping the economy at all.

Please give back our stamp! We already paid for it with our blood, sweat and tears! Allow us to exercise our right to vote for candidates that will truly represent our interests and carry our hopes and aspirations for our country! Count our votes!


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